Emily_Spreen_PhD_Dissertation_FINAL_chtitles.pdf (65.79 MB)

Trajectory Design and Targeting For Applications to the Exploration Program in Cislunar Space

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posted on 07.05.2021, 18:20 by Emily MZ Spreen

A dynamical understanding of orbits in the Earth-Moon neighborhood that can sustain long-term activities and trajectories that link locations of interest forms a critical foundation for the creation of infrastructure to support a lasting presence in this region of space. In response, this investigation aims to identify and exploit fundamental dynamical motion in the vicinity of a candidate ‘hub’ orbit, the L2 southern 9:2 lunar synodic resonant near rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO), while incorporating realistic mission constraints. The strategies developed in this investigation are, however, not restricted to this particular orbit but are, in fact, applicable to a wide variety of stable and nearly-stable cislunar orbits. Since stable and nearly-stable orbits that may lack useful manifold structures are of interest for long-term activities in cislunar space due to low orbit maintenance costs, strategies to alternatively initiate transfer design into and out of these orbits are necessary. Additionally, it is crucial to understand the complex behaviors in the neighborhood of any candidate hub orbit. In this investigation, a bifurcation analysis is used to identify periodic orbit families in close proximity to the hub orbit that may possess members with favorable stability properties, i.e., unstable orbits. Stability properties are quantified using a metric defined as the stability index. Broucke stability diagrams, a tool in which the eigenvalues of the monodromy matrix are recast into two simple parameters, are used to identify bifurcations along orbit families. Continuation algorithms, in combination with a differential corrections scheme, are used to compute new families of periodic orbits originating at bifurcations. These families possess unstable members with associated invariant manifolds that are indeed useful for trajectory design. Members of the families nearby the L2 NRHOs are demonstrated to persist in a higher-fidelity ephemeris model.

Transfers based on the identified nearby dynamical structures and their associated manifolds are designed. To formulate initial guesses for transfer trajectories, a Poincaré mapping technique is used. Various sample trajectory designs are produced in this investigation to demonstrate the wide applicability of the design methodology. Initially, designs are based in the circular restricted three-body problem, however, geometries are demonstrated to persist in a higher-fidelity ephemeris model, as well. A strategy to avoid Earth and Moon eclipse conditions along many-revolution quasi-periodic ephemeris orbits and transfer trajectories is proposed in response to upcoming mission needs. Lunar synodic resonance, in combination with careful epoch selection, produces a simple eclipse-avoidance technique. Additionally, an integral-type eclipse avoidance path constraint is derived and incorporated into a differential corrections scheme as well. Finally, transfer trajectories in the circular restricted three-body problem and higher-fidelity ephemeris model are optimized and the geometry is shown to persist.


NASA Grant Number 80NSSC18K1153


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Kathleen Howell

Additional Committee Member 2

Diane Davis

Additional Committee Member 3

James Longuski

Additional Committee Member 4

Carolin Frueh